The Divorce Advice I Never Got

by | May 22, 2024

  1. You are stronger and smarter than you may feel in this moment (a.k.a be very picky about the advice you follow).
  2. You are a butterfly.
  3. The high road is your gift to you.
  4. It’s ok to be right where you are.

Almost all of us have said at some point, “I knew that wasn’t right. I should have trusted myself.” Sound familiar? It’s particularly easy to ignore your inner alarm bell during divorce because you are likely so depleted and overwhelmed, wondering if you should trust yourself. And while it’s valuable to realize that you’re not at your decision-making best, it’s equally important to acknowledge that however well-meaning your friends and family are, they are likely bringing their own divorce fears or baggage to your situation. It’s quite possible they don’t even realize their own fears are driving what they say to you. If it can happen to you, can it also happen to them?

Unfortunately, those unspoken (and sometimes unrealized) worries can translate to advice you don’t need.

What do I mean?

Those who care about you most also want you to know that they are on YOUR team. To them, suggesting that you “take him/her for all their worth,” or “change the locks immediately,” or “take everything they own to a dumpster,” is a demonstration of their loyalty to you. Unfortunately, though, these things can also escalate conflict and stress, which will ultimately cost you financially and emotionally. It’s no secret that higher conflict cases cost more (a lot more) and create more day-to-day stress and chaos for everyone involved, especially kids. In some situations this is unavoidable. But in most it is not. Divorce does not necessarily mean going to war with your ex. You can avoid escalation by choosing the tone you want from the beginning, and by being careful about whose advice you follow. Choose friends, family and professionals who support your goal of a process that is as collaborative and respectful as possible.

Don’t underestimate the impact you’re having on those around you

You’ve heard of the Butterfly Effect, yes? Though it originated in chaos theory it is commonly used as a life metaphor to explain how seemingly small acts can and do have a significant and unpredictable impact on our life and the lives of those around us.

It can be helpful to remember that when faced with difficult choices during the divorce process. For example:

  • Should I be flexible if my ex wants to change the parenting schedule this weekend?
  • What if I said something kind to my ex – even something simple, like thank you or have a good weekend?
  • What if I respond to something I don’t agree with by saying, “Tell me more,” instead of shutting it down?
  • What if I assumed my kids heard everything I said about their other parent? Would it change what came out of my mouth?
  • What might happen if I am kinder to myself through this process?

Recently, I talked with a potential client who said she’d been reading my blog and social posts for some time, but never commented or shared because she didn’t want anyone to know she’s thinking about divorce. That makes so much sense, and affirmed my belief that things tend to find their way to the people who need them.

Ultimately, what’s most important is that you make choices that reflect who you want to be, regardless of who’s watching. But sometimes we all need a reminder that we have the power to make a difference, even if it isn’t immediately felt.

Next is the “high road.” Many people push back on this one, saying their ex does not deserve their compassion or kindness.

Maybe not. But I don’t think it matters, because taking the high road is never for your ex – it’s actually for you. I have seen time and again that transformation happens when you decide to disconnect from what your spouse / ex “deserves” – and focus instead on moving through this process in a way you’ll be proud of, and toward a fulfilling future. When you choose to put all that valuable energy toward something positive and fulfilling, it is truly a gift to yourself. And btw, when those benefits spill to others around you as well, such as kids, friends, family, and maybe even your ex, that’s just icing on the cake.

If you’re in the trenches of divorce you may feel like all you can do is put one foot in front of the other today. Forget high road, or low road, you’re just hoping you can stay standing. I have been there, too, and I wish I’d been kinder to myself during those days. I share these tips because it will get better. But if you are stuck today, I hope you can accept that’s where you are now. Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend. What would you say to her if she felt the way you do now?

If you take only one message from this, I hope it will be this: all the above boils down to giving yourself love and grace as you navigate this time. The rest is gravy.

If you need a pep talk, I’m here. Wishing you love and strength on your journey. 💪🏼 💝